Barclays chairman Marcus Agius resigns over rate fixing

Barclays chairman Marcus Agius has issued a public apology and stepped down, following the interest rate fixing issue.

Apology: Barclays chairman Marcus Agius said: 'I am truly sorry that our customers, clients, employees and shareholders have been let down'
Apology: Barclays chairman Marcus Agius said: 'I am truly sorry that our customers, clients, employees and shareholders have been let down'

The news follows political demands for a senior executive to take the fall for Barclays' attempts to manipulate the interbank lending rate Libor between 2005 and 2009. Much of the focus has been on chief executive Bob Diamond, who has resisted calls to resign.

Press were briefed over the weekend by the Barclays media operation, currently led by director of media relations Giles Croot, and told a statement by Agius would be issued at 7am today.

The statement, posted on the bank’s press section, said that last week’s events showed ‘unacceptable standards of behaviour within the bank’ and that the revelations had ‘dealt a devastating blow to Barclays' reputation’.

Agius went on to say: ‘As chairman, I am the ultimate guardian of the bank’s reputation. Accordingly, the buck stops with me and I must acknowledge responsibility by standing aside.

‘I am truly sorry that our customers, clients, employees and shareholders have been let down.’

The admission of guilt by Agius comes as The Independent reveals a memo in which Diamond is thought to have complained that the scandal would lead to ‘more political intervention’ and reinforced ‘bad caricature’ of the banking industry.

The move follows reports suggesting taxpayer-funded Royal Bank of Scotland has sacked four traders over the issue, as Business Secretary Vince Cable has backed a police inquiry into the affair.

Diamond has faced calls for his resignation from Labour leader Ed Miliband and Patience Wheatcroft, a Conservative peer and former non-executive director of Barclays. Diamond will appear before the Treasury Select Committee on 4 July.

Jo-ann Robertson, Ketchum Pleon MD for corporate and public affairs, suggested Diamond’s appearance would be ‘key and potentially explosive’.

She said: ‘The questions I would ask Bob Diamond, from a comms perspective, are; does he really believe that his personal reputation isn't having a negative impact on the reputation of Barclays? And does he believe the bank can recover and rebuild trust with him at the helm?

‘Now, more than ever, there is a strong need for leadership in the banking sector. Actions speak louder than words when it comes to leadership and I think Bob Diamond knows what action he has to take.’

Barclays has also announced an audit of the bank’s business practices. The statement read that the audit would be combined with ‘activity intended to restore Barclays reputation’ and that the bank would establish ‘a zero tolerance policy for any actions that harm the reputation of the bank’.

Agius is due to appear, despite his resignation, before the Treasury Select Committee on 5 July. The bank's senior independent director Sir Michael Rake will replace Agius in the interim.

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